“They tick a few boxes,” says Rocky Point’s Richard Unsworth, quietly underplaying the value of the charity bushwalks he has led in Pittwater every month for the past year.
As someone who has been a fervent walker all his life, Richard believes profoundly in the role the natural environment can play in well-being. Introducing small groups to some of the Western Foreshore’s most beautiful locations helps people connect to the land and to each other.
The idea of connection is taken further with the reason why Richard started the walks a year ago. All money raised goes to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation that provides books and services to remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. So far the ILF has given more than half a million new books to more than 400 remote and very remote communities and published 103 books in 26 languages, written by Indigenous people for Indigenous people.
Another ticked box for walk participants is the chance to see Trincomalee, the historic 1896 Pittwater home co-owned by Richard since 2015. The guided walks are followed by lunch at Trincomalee and an inspection of its gardens, which are in the process of being restored by Richard. As founder and creative director of the landscape design company Garden Life, it goes without saying he is no slouch in the gardening arena. Nevertheless, he does say he’s feeling as if he’s learning to garden again. “It’s a great teacher.”
By the way, as the bushwalks reach their first birthday in robust health, Richard has his own anniversary to celebrate. He came to Australia 30 years ago from Yorkshire, “literally came on holiday, fell in love with Sydney and stayed”.
The idea for the bushwalks started germinating early last year. Richard had joined his local bushcare group and, as he puts it, “started to have a relationship with the bush here … it’s such a different way of working with the land”. Through this he met local bush guru Paul Webb, whose expertise is widely sought in the community. Richard started thinking how good it would be to get a few people out of the city and into the bush, and to raise some money for a good cause at the same time. He discovered the work of the ILF through some book publisher contacts and it spoke to him as a way of raising awareness about the need for reconciliation with our First Nations people.
Paul agreed to help guide the small groups – there is a maximum of eight places for each walk – and after testing the concept with some members of Richard’s Garden Life team, they were ready to go in June 2020. The groups either start at Halls Wharf and go up to Flagstaff and then to Linda Falls, or go along the Elvina trail to view the treasured Indigenous rock engravings.
So far the walks have raised about $14,000 for the ILF and Richard is committed to continuing them. The cost is $150 per person and bookings are made via eventbrite.com.au. Private groups can also be accommodated from time to time.
Feature Image: Guided bushwalks take in the beauties of Pittwater. Photo courtesy Richard Unsworth
Story By Deborah Jones